How To Brew Hard Kombucha

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How To Make Hard Kombucha

Brewing hard Kombucha with higher alcohol is a process that will be more familiar to beer and cider brewers than regular Kombucha makers. The reason for this is that we go through a second fermentation that uses a beer or Champagne yeast.

Cost-wise and effervescent-wise, a champagne yeast like EC-1118 will work great and costs anywhere between .75 and $1.50 per pack. With that said, we can brew a 1 litre bottle of hard Kombucha for well under a buck.

According to Forbes, it became the drink of 2020. If we attempt to buy it, we will see its price tag amongst the highest for a 6-pack. Thus, it has huge gains for the homebrewer as it is amongst the cheapest item to brew, minus hard seltzer which is quite trendy, even though it is basically sugar water that is fermented with yeast.

The Brewing Process

To start with. we make regular Kombucha. We have already explained this procedure in an earlier post titled, How To Brew Kombucha.

Once we have our Kombucha, we proceed to the second fermentation. However, equipment-wise we will need the following items.

  • Champagne yeast
  • strainer
  • 1 – 3 gallon carboy
  • airlock
  • auto-siphon
  • bottling wand
  • bottles with swing top caps

To start with, we sanitize our equipment. Starsan works awesome for a no rinse sanitizer. After that, we remove the scoby and strain our Kombucha into a carboy.

The next step is to add 1-2 cups of sugar per gallon of Kombucha. Before we do this, we can use hot water to dissolve the regular table sugar in water. 2 cups of boiled hot water per cup of sugar works good.

After that, we rehydrate the yeast as it says on the backside of the package. Once we have done that, we can make a starter for EC-1118 or pitch directly into the carboy. To go a little further, we can buy yeast nutrient and add it at the rate of 1/4tsp per gallon.

Now, we can add sanitizer into the airlock and insert it in the carboy. The room should be 70-75 degrees F.

It won’t take long before we see bubbles forming on the surface and yeast cakes on the surface. We can monitor the activity via the airlock and looking for bubbles.

Cakes forming on surface

After 2-4 weeks, the yeast should have slowed down and fermentation subsided. We can taste along the way using a sanitized wine thief to remove small samples.

Hard Kombucha with higher alcohol fermenting after 3 weeks with EC-1118 champagne yeast
Still fermenting after 3 weeks. Tasting and monitoring is crucial.

Once we reach this stage, we can transfer the hard Kombucha into a clean bucket or carboy and add juice(pure…not concentrate) flavoring to the mixture. 1 cup of juice per gallon will suffice.

Then, we bottle the hard Kombucha and store in a room at room temp. After 24 hours, we can refrigerate one bottle begin sampling when it is chilled. That will tell us whether or not we should do a second night at room temp for the other bottles.

We can continue this process until we reach the amount of desired fizziness.

Next Brew

At this point, we can take notes and make adjustments that would be better for us next time. For example, we may want to double the sugar and double the juice.

Conclusion

I hope we have learned something. If anything, we now have the tools to brew hard Kombucha, make a desired level of alcohol and flavor and save money.

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